Five Things that Hell is NOT

1. Hell is not a place for babies

If you insist on believing in traditional-hell, then you have no other choice but to believe that every child who dies without a relationship with Jesus, goes straight to hell, including all miscarried babies, babies who die of SIDS and disease, and young children who die in accidents etc.

There is no evidence in the Bible of an age of accountability. There is also nothing in the Bible about infant baptism saving children from hell.

So if you believe that we are all “born into sin,” and deserve to go to hell, then this applies to all babies and children as well as teenagers and adults. Either you believe that we are all destined for traditional-hell from the moment we are conceived until the moment we accept Jesus –

Or you don’t believe in traditional hell at all.

2. Hell is not justice

People who believe in traditional-hell, claim that hell is the justice of God i.e. that we get what we deserve. But how can endless torture for all eternity (traditional-hell) be what anyone deserves?

Even if Hitler himself were sentenced to 100 years of torture for every person he ever hurt directly or indirectly, this would not be a blip on eternity’s radar. So even if it were “just” to punish Hitler for millions of years, wouldn’t it be unjust to punish him for all eternity? If God is actually just (according to the Western justice system) wouldn’t he have to set Hitler free eventually and say that he had had enough punishment? Eternity is too long to punish anyone!

And why would God give the same punishment to a five year old who died in a car accident, as he did to Hitler? Why would they both serve eternal-sentences in hell for being born sinners? How is that justice?

Firstly, the Western definition of justice is not God’s definition of justice at all. And secondly, even if this definition of justice were God’s definition, then he would be a crueller judge than the cruellest of all human judges, because he would show no mercy and let no one out of hell according to the traditional-hell position.

3. Hell is not separation

Here is another downfall in the traditional-hell position. The majority of Western Christianity claims that hell is separation from God. They will cite 2 Thessalonians 1:9 as evidence “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord” NIV. But the KJV says: “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction FROM the presence of the Lord.”

Wait a minute, most English translations describe this as separated from the presence of the Lord, but the KJV says it is coming from the presence of the Lord. Did you know that the Aramaic Bible says “From the face of our Lord.” The Jubilee Bible says “By the presence of the Lord” the American Standard version says “From the face of the Lord” Webster’s Bible translation says “From the presence of the Lord” and listen to Young’s Literal Translation:

“Who shall suffer JUSTICE-destruction age-during FROM the face of the Lord!” Nothing about eternal punishment in there and certainly nothing about separation from God. In fact it shows us that HELL IS IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

For more evidence that hell is IN the presence of God (and has only been mistranslated as separation) take a look at these verses:

Revelation 14:10 “They will be tormented with burning sulfur IN the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. (New NIV)
Psalm 139:7-8 “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee form your presence? If I ascend into heavens, you are there; if I made my bed in HELL behold you are there.” (NKJV)

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NKJV)

The only way to be separated from God, is to cease to exist at all. Unless you believe that hell is annihilation, then this traditional-hell position (which I was taught as a child) that hell is separation from God, is unbiblical.

4. Hell is not eternal

Returning to 2 Thessalonians 1:9 “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord.” Not only is “shut out from” a mistranslation of the original text; so also is the word “everlasting.”

The Greek word used here is “aionios” which means “age-during” or “age to come.” Heaven and hell exist in the “age to come.”

We’ve all heard the word “aeon” which means age. An Aeon implies a finite period of time with a beginning and an ending. When the Bible talks about hell it is referring to a period in the afterlife. I don’t pretend to know when that period will end, but God does create a “new heaven” and a “new earth” and I hope that by that time, there will be no more need for a hell.

5. Hell is not punishment

Yet another word mistranslated in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is the word “punishment.” The Greek word “Kolasis” which has been translated as “punishment” in most English Bibles, is a GARDENING term!

Remember in the Gospel of John chapter 15, Jesus tells the disciples that he is the “vine” and they are the “branches?” His father prunes the vine to cut off what is fruitless and to cultivate more fruit.

In Romans 11 Paul refers to Jews and Gentiles being grafted into an olive tree and then says “All Israel will be saved” verse 26 and God has “mercy on them all” (Jews and Gentiles) verse 32.

If a human being is producing bad fruit in they will be cut off and thrown into the fire (Matt 13:42) for kolasis: for pruning. God’s intention is that we all be grafted back in and produce healthy fruit. This is the purpose of hellfire.

Hell is not punishment, hell is pruning.

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